Published: 21st June 2019
This fisherman from Kasimedu, Chennai is going about the city cleaning beaches and extracting plastic from the ocean
Vinoth Kutta Maran tells us why we need to preserve our oceans and the dangers that await the environment and our natural balance if humankind chooses to ignore the warning signs
Through the hot summer morning in glorious Chennai city, I was asked to travel to Royapuram which was about 25 km away from where I stay. As much as I was dreading it because of the heat, I was also excited to meet a team of seven that initiates beach-cleaning projects around the city. They call themselves Ocean Awareness.
As I was going through Kasimedu to get to N4 beach it felt so much like cruising through the sets of the movie Vada Chennai. I was led to N4 beach by Vinoth Kutta Maran the co-founder of Ocean Awareness along with G Saranraj and T Shrikanth — and through the short drive from Royapuram to Kasimedu I got to witness the tons of garbage laying across the beach and another ton that had accumulated in the water body around N4 beach. That was reality check number one for me as to how much humanity is being destructive of our water bodies.
Losing ocean life to extinction and the growing unawareness of the state of the ocean is a big threat we are facing in today's day and age
Vinoth K, Founder, Ocean Awareness
Be the change: Ensure that plastic is banned and people follow the practice, educate people on the importance of dustbins and remember that every action has consequences
This was not it and something told me that there was more breath-taking statistics to how much we kill the ocean day by day. As we rode through the little pathway on N4 beach, we came across the little water body (which still is a part of the ocean) that was caught between the fort like structure and the docks. Why am I boring you with this detail you ask? It is because that small waterbody in itself contained 17 ton of garbage. Shocked? Well, there’s more such information to come, sit back and...Well actually don’t sit back, instead, I suggest we all try to understand Vinoth’s vision and see how each of us can contribute towards cleaner oceans. Reality check number two hit me like a wave that hit the rocks at the beach that not many people are aware of how much damage they are causing to the ocean by polluting them.
I picked up the trash on the road and dropped it in a bin nearby. This brought a smile on my baby girl's face
Vinoth K, Founder, Ocean Awareness
Home to the sea
Vinoth hails from Kasimedu, an area that serves to be a home for dozens of fishermen. “I come from a family whose sole livelihood depended on fishing. I grew up looking at the sea as home. I was not one to be affected by pollution as a growing child as I was not taught that it was wrong. Once I had a family of my own — my seven-year-old was one to educate me on cleanliness and the severities of pollution,” says Vinoth with a tone of pride over his little girl. He continues to narrate his breakthrough moment all thanks to her, “I was taking a walk with my daughter and we were sipping on elaneer (coconut water) and once I was done with it I happened to throw the mattai (shell) on the side of the road. As we moved further ahead on our long walk, I was stopped by something that sounded like my seven-year-old sobbing, she went on to say, “Dad, can you imagine if someone met with an accident due to the mattai you dropped on the road? Imagine how their family would feel losing them due to our carelessness?” — I went back immediately, picked it up and dropped it in a bin nearby. This brought a smile on her face. That smile is what inspired me to start Ocean Awareness in the year 2016.”
Something fishy: Team Ocean Awareness hail from Kasimedu, an area in Chennai that serves to be a home for dozens of fishermen
Saviours of the seas
“Just as my baby educated me on the perils of pollution I wanted to give out that message to everyone else out there. In the year 2017, despite all the restrictions from the government, we finally were able to conduct a marathon and over 7,000 people registered and participated for the cause. We have conducted over nine marathons since 2016 and we have received an amazing response from the public,” he explains.
Reality check three was when he told me the sad state of our planet — 4.8 to 12.7 million metric tons of plastic waste entering the oceans per year. And Ocean Awareness is not one to stand by and watch as those numbers multiply! “We want to be able to reach out and raise awareness in the world, that’s what our ultimate goal is. Those numbers are definitely going down and we’re here to ensure that it will!” concludes Vinoth.